Maria (Andzelm) Kershenbaum, 88, of Red Bank, entered eternal rest on Friday, February 10, surrounded by her loving family in Red Bank. She was born in Janowiec, Poland, to the late Stefan and Waleria Andzelm.
After immigrating to the United States in the early 1950s, Maria and her husband, Moses, lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, and in 1968, they relocated to the Red Bank area where they owned and operated the Monmouth Cigar and Stationery Store for 14 years.
She was a natural homemaker, great cook, talented knitter and an avid sewer who also worked in the garment district of New York City as a professional seamstress.
She was raised with a humanitarian spirit; believing and demonstrating a connection to others.
Maria received the Yad Vashem Medal and Certificate of Honor and was designated as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” by the Israeli government (the distinction is awarded to a non-Jewish person who risked his or her life, freedom, and safety to save Jews from the threat of deportation or death).
The recognition Maria received was for the part she played, as a young teenager, helping two Jewish men escape from the Nazis. Her family built a box (put in the ground like a grave), and hid them in a barn and cared for them for two years. Sadly, her father was killed the day of Liberation. Her family’s courage to uphold human values ultimately caused them to leave their home for fear of attacks by their neighbors.
All was not lost, Maria gave love and found love. Her husband, Moses, was one of the refugees she had helped. She was often asked, to share stories of the Holocaust and explain her family’s war time decision. The legacy of Maria will continue to live on in all of us and we will always be encouraged by her example of taking the less travelled path and standing up for moral principals.
In 1997, after 53 years of marriage, Moses, her beloved husband passed away. Maria was also predeceased by her parents, Stefan and Waleria Andzelm, who were Righteous Gentiles; her brother, Janusz Andzelm; and her son-in-law, Rev. James W. King.
Surviving are her two devoted daughters, Rosalie King of Toms River and Helene Wright and her husband Ellsworth J. Wright III of Oceanport; and her brother, Stanislaw Andzelm of Lublin, Poland. She is survived by five grandchildren, Bryan King, Todd King, Lori Wright O’Keefe (husband Jason), Keri Wright and Ellsworth J. Wright, IV (wife Krystal); and one great-grandchild, Emmett O’Keefe, who she was blessed to see born and who brought her lots of joy.
On a lighter note, often there were sightings of Maria, in different places, being wheeled by her caregiver, and greeting everyone who came into her path. Now that she is in Heaven, she is greeting everyone, not handicapped but walking and dancing.
A Memorial Gathering honoring Maria’s life will be held on Sunday, February 26 at 12:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 84 Maple Ave., Red Bank. Arrangements are handled by the Thompson Memorial Home in Red Bank and condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.thompsonmemorial.net.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Maria Kershenbaum’s memory to: First Baptist Church of Red Bank or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or by phone at 800-805-5856.
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